06 January 2017


Every Sunday, from the age of twelve until I turned eighteen, I stood with the other girls in my church class and recited the Young Women theme. We spoke of the values we strived to live: faith, integrity, good works, and knowledge, to name a few.

We committed to stand for truth and righteousness at all times, and in all things, and in all places.

The examples in our lesson manuals took the approach that our dedication to standing firmly for our beliefs meant wearing one-piece swimsuits, formal dresses with sleeves, and standing up and walking out of a movie should it be the least bit questionable (read: not PG).

Years later, I would again stand every Sunday and recite the theme- this time as an advisor to the young women in my congregation. I saw their example of living steadfast in their convictions and utilizing the values we spoke of in ways far more substantial than dresses or swimsuits.

It's been over five years since I've served with the young women. On occasion, I hear the girls in my current congregation reciting their theme as I pass by their classroom. I can recall once, maybe a year and a half ago, when they joined the relief society for the first few minutes of our meeting, as they do every month.

I didn't have a baby with me, so I was free to give my undivided attention, albeit apprehensively. I spent the duration of the opening hymn going over the lesson in my mind, imagining any comments that might deter from the point, and willing myself to be open to what would be presented.

As the young women stood and stated the familiar line about standing for truth and righteousness before leaving for their own class, I felt in an ever so slight way (though more than I'd felt in quite some time) that there was something to all of this that I couldn't yet give up on.

For all of the damaging things that are taught, whether directly or indirectly, and for every hurtful practice rooted in tradition, unchanged simply because it's what's always been done- I believe that one simple line buried in the mantra the young women in my church memorize and repeat every single week carries great weight and relevance.

There is great importance in standing for what is right and true, no matter what.

It's not a charge to be left to adolescent Mormon girls; it's something that all Mormons, all Christians, all humans, should task ourselves with.

Last week, I read that the Mormon Tabernacle Choir accepted the invitation to perform at Trump's inauguration. Given the claims of the church to uphold values of love, kindness, respect, and things like unto basic human decency (not to mention political neutrality), I was disappointed its worldwide ambassadors were not taking a stand against the president elect and his platform of anything but human decency.

Yes, the choir has performed at inaugurations in the past. And yes, church leaders meet with political leaders regularly.

This is different.

This is lending voices to a celebration of a man who continually proves that his presidency will be a threat to many. In doing so, it comes across as simply celebrating, no matter how neutral a position the church maintains. It comes across as complicit. It comes across as supportive.

I was disappointed and frustrated, but, sadly, not surprised.

Then I read this.

A member of the choir resigned, posting her reasons for doing so in a letter on her personal facebook page, stating she would never be able to look herself in the mirror with self-respect if she went through with it.

The performance is voluntary. She could have chosen to not go and remain a part of the choir. I've heard from members of the choir just how difficult it is to become a member; the process is grueling for even the most talented.

This was likely a dream of hers, something she sacrificed and dedicated herself to. It would have been so easy to quietly take a stand and stay home, while still remaining a part of the choir, but that would have been an easy way out.

She had so much to lose, much criticism to gain, and still, she stood for what is right and true.

It's one thing to say what we believe. It's another thing entirely to back it up with our actions, particularly when the personal cost is great, when the chance for fallout is high, when we stand to lose relationships and opportunities.

Though, anytime it takes effort to reconcile what we do with what we believe is exactly when we should do it. Anytime the cost to us is minimal, but the benefit to another high is exactly when we should take a stand.

Taking a stand matters, always.

At all times.

In all things.

In all places.

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